GLAM/Case studies/Wiki Club in Macedonia: from idea to award
The first Wiki Club in Macedonia was established in the Museum of Macedonian struggle in Skopje. The first day of Wiki Club was 19th October 2016, and as of 2017, the project is still running well, with Wiki Club meetings happening at least once a week.
This page is a case study reflecting how the GLAM Macedonia User Group established and runs these Wiki Club. WikiClubs are regular educational groups that gather school-age students to contribute to Wikimedia Projects in partnership with GLAMs.
Wiki Club is part of the education program and GLAM outreach of the user group GLAM Macedonia. The aim of this project is to recruit new editors and contributors, to add or improve the content of the existing Wikimedia projects in the Macedonian language, and to spread the word about Wikipedia among students.
As many of the members of GLAM Macedonia are teachers or educators, working with students come naturally to us. To develop a program, the first step we took was to ask experienced organizers for advice and tips, helped us be prepare for finding an ally institution to sponsor the group. We learned the most tips and tricks from the experience of Susanna Mkrtchyan of Wikimedia Armania, who was very helpful in forming the groups.
- Where to established a Wiki Club?
For us, as a Wikimedia organization, it is crucial to run Wiki Club in respected institutions, so that parents can trust the program and will let their children come. In most of the discussions we had, the institutions we approached wanted to work with registered organizations, in order to be able to sign and seal an agreement and assure the partner that both sides will follow through.
Tip: "Start Wiki Club where you are welcome, this is very important."
Our first attempt to start a Wiki Club was via a collaboration with the Ministry of Information Society. This initial attempt failed. We were invited in the MIS on several meetings in order to start a project together. Officials in the Ministry were delighted with the idea of Wiki Club, but their proposal for us was to wait from them, to find a when and where to start such a club. After several months, and after many e-mails sent to the schools in Skopje by the officials of the Ministry, there was no answer from any of the schools. At that point, we concluded that this attempt had failed, probably because school officials get too many requests from the Ministry to join in many different projects, so they didn't want to join in yet another project.
We, as a group, decided to continue our search for institutions which met the criteria we think we needed for the User Group, including: existing education programs and experience working with students; a good internet connection; a room for Wiki Club; and working hours suitable for Wiki Club. In part, we chose those criteria, because they are similar to the kind of support we expected from a school.
The first institution which opened the doors for us was the Museum of Macedonian Struggle in Skopje. All conditions listed above were met. In the museum, there is a “children's corner” (as the employees called it) and the educators needed more activities for students, because the students age 14 and up needed more challenge than just writing poetry about history or drawing pictures. Futhermore, we had been invited to start a meeting with the officials of the Museum in order to start collaboration of any kind.
After several hours of the first meeting, we decided to established a Wiki Club in the Museum. We signed a Memorandum for Collaboration with the Museum and an additional agreement to run a Wiki Club. As part of the agreement, the Museum guarantees it will provide a good internet connection, quite space for students to work, enough electrical plugs and sockets for computers, snack during the working hours of the Wiki Club, and two of their employees who are educators, to help work with us. Our part of the agreement is to send a Wikipedian once a week to teach the students about Wikipedia, to provide computers, awards for students and to organize edit-a-thons, workshops and other kind of events.
We started with the baby steps, expecting to have at least 50 participants, at least 6 edit-a-thons, and several other kind of events. The Museum wanted to enrich the activities for the students they run according to their program. We choose these modest goals, in order to fulfill the larger impact goal of educating students out of school how to use and edit Wikipedia, while also teaching them on how to work together as a team, how to write articles in neutral point of view and how to use computers for socially useful work and not just for playing.
We approached developing the project, by solving several high level problems:
The first problem to solve was: how to involve the students?
Tip: "You need a large number of students involved, it is more interesting for students when more of them are involved. If they are little in number, edit Wikipedia become boring action for students."
In order to have a larger number of students, we needed someone who can encourage them to get involved. We appointed a secondary school teacher as the coordinator for education in the User Group, and she was delighted to join the group. Besides having an enthusiastic coordinator doing outreach, we printed 2000 flyers, and our members gave several interviews in media. At the very first meeting in Wiki Club there were 20 students willing to become Wiki Club members.
Second we needed to address the question: what equipment would we use and how can we provide it?
One solution is to buy laptops, but this is too expensive. Other solution was to get donations. We use this strategy: Zana was guest in the popular TV show, speaking about Wikipedia and the Wiki Club and she asked audience for donation of used computers. The result of this ask: We get 5 used desk top computers, but in the first year, only one was a set - with monitor, keyboard, mouse, USB wi-fi connector. Of course, it helps if some of the students bring their own laptop computers, but in our case, not all of them, and not all the time. We cannot count on that.
Third, we tried to figure out How to animate the students?
Tip: "You have to give the students monthly awards in several propositions, so they will compete between themselves."
The regular meeting in the Wiki Club looks like this: The students are free to come when they are able to arrive. All members are not there all the time, because we encourage them to edit from home. This is because it will be impossible to work with more than 20 students at the same time, and because we want them to adopt a habit of editing Wikipedia. Some of the members come to regular meeting when they have a question about editing process. Usually, at meetings, the students are asked to translate articles from en.wiki. Every member has to login themselves and edit something on mk.wiki that day.
To the newbies at their first meeting we gave basic lecture about Wikipedia, then ask them to create user name, to sign in the project page and to write something (at least - Hello) on their user page, which is the first edit they will do. We then explain to them where the list of needed articles is and how to open en.wiki article for translation. We then give them a task to translate article at home on their own user page, and they are free to go home. Every time newbies work first on their user page. They then come again when they are ready, sometimes after several weeks. The next time when the newbies come to the regular meeting, we teach them how to create a new article. They copy/paste the text from their user page, check the text, save page, and add photo, other languages, template on talk page. This is how we work with them sometimes for several months, until we are aware that they are ready to start new article by themselves.
We give monthly awards in several categories, for example: for the best article; for most contributions; for most created new articles, etc. Awards for students don’t have to be expensive: T-shirts may even be too expensive. Other awards that we have used, include: notes, cups, pencils, color pencils, etc.
Organizing Edit-a-thons proved to be a good way to engage the students to be more active during regular club meetings. Why? We invited only six students to be part of the edit-a-thon. They are selected from the most active in the previous period of time. Edit-a-thon is always held out of regular Wiki Club meeting time, and out of the Museum. We held only one edit-a-thon in the Wiki Club space out of 7. Usually we are in the coffee bar, or in some other free space, where the internet is strong, and where we can eat pizza or hamburger (snack on regular meeting is always croissant and juice given by the Museum). At edit-a-thons, the students are asked to create new articles from the books and materials provided by the Museum educators, and usually on historical themes. We give them certificates after the edit-a-thon. The students want to come, because the editing is fun on edit-a-thon.
We organized editing contest with a small award of 10 euros, named “Women you never met”. This was a part of global contest with the same name. We are proud that our local winner, member of the WIki Club, was also a global winner.
To help organize the activities, we created a project page, where the students sign up themselves. In this way, we have control on how many members we have, on their user names, and we could check their activities regularly. Also, we created a template used at the talk page of new articles created by the Wiki Club members, which said: "This article is created by the member of the Wiki Club". This way, we are able to count the new articles, created by the members of the Wiki Club very easy. The Program and Events Dashboard is one way to control the activities of the students. 
Control of the quality
An important part of supporting the club was checking the articles created by the students, because we want new articles created by the students to be of a good quality. If they are not with a good quality, or if the new articles are only stubs, community administrators may delete them. We found that, in many situations where content is deleted, the articles are missing important parts of quality content: infobox, photos, inner links, or sometimes we just have to check the text. Usually Wikipedia community and GLAM Macedonia members are checking the quality of the articles. Several times we have had teachers and parents check the text themselves.
Tip: Create a list of articles needed for students
It is not a good idea to leave the students to editing anything that they are interested in: the students started with articles about video games, or something which we (adults) couldn’t check, because we do not know the subject. The best practice is to allow students to choose from a list of articles. We create lists of articles needed by the subject: biography, science, biology, geography, history, religion, etc. Students are free to choose an article from the list. And, edit-a-thons are always thematic.
We have students coming from at least six schools from Skopje, all coming from different part of the city, most of them by bus, using their free time. After several months, we were asked to visit the members of Wiki Club in their own school in Dracevo, because of the distance they were not able to participate once in a week. After six months, we were invited to establish a second Wiki Club. The opening day of the second Wiki Club in Macedonia was on 1 March 2017, in the local elementary school in Staro Nagoričane.
The volunteer members of GLAM Macedonia maintain two Wiki Clubs and one Wiki section (members of one Wiki Club asked us to send a Wikipedian to work with them in their own school because they live far away to come once in a week, we called them Wiki section of the Wiki Club in the Museum of Macedonian Struggle). Additionally, 87 students and two adults have been trained in Wikipedia, 7 edit-a-thons have been held, we participated two meetings with the Municipality officials (Karposh Municipality and Staro Nagorichane Municipality), more than 220 new articles were created in the first year by the members of Wiki Clubs, and more than 300 existing articles were improved with text and photos, by September 2017. Moreover, we have been asked to established new Wiki Clubs in several other Museums in Macedonia.
The club allows for other kinds of activities: for example, the Wiki Club took a part in celebrating Wikipedia 16. The Club organized an event on 17 January 2017. The event was fully covered by the media. There were announcements before the event, and after the event itself in the local news. Wikipedians gave interview to the reporters, and were excited to hear that their efforts supporting the Wiki Club are valued.
The biggest success of the Wiki Clubs was an award which we received at the international day of the Museums, 18 May 2017. ICOM Macedonia awarded the club the award for best project in the Museums in Macedonia.
Reflection and lessons learned
Beside the already mention tips, we learned that:
- We cannot start Wiki Club in the suspicious area or in private house or apartment. Parents will not let their children to become members of the Wiki Club.
- Do not pay for the space where you want to run Wiki Club. If you do not have the support of an ally organization to run a Wiki Club, it's likely that it will not work.
- Do not engage for Wiki Club meeting more than once or twice a week, and more than 3 hours per meeting.
- The students must not feel obligation to come to edit Wikipedia, or they will stop coming: the event can include social time as well.
- The first year the Wiki Club should be run by volunteers.
- Encourage the students to edit Wikipedia from home.This is important if you want them to become active Wikipedians.
- More photos in the corresponding category on Commons
- In media: TV Show "Jadi Burek"
- About the first Wiki Club in Macedonia
- TV Sitel about Wiki Club celebrating 16th Wiki birthday
- In the newsletter on outreach
- Announcement on the Website of the Municipality
- In GLAM Newsletter, January 2017
- In GLAM Newsletter, May 2017
- The project page at mk.wiki for edit-a-thons
- Announcement on the Website of the Museum
- About the event on many websites
- About the award for the Wiki Club in the Museum
- ↑ For discussion of how Wikimedia Armenia's youth programs, WikiCamps, worked, see this 2015 blog post, and this video. Lessons learned presented by Susanna in 2015.
- ↑ To learn more about using the Programs and Events Dashboard see the the Training for using the Dashboard or the documentation on meta:Programs & Events Dashboard/Using the Dashboard.